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1: That some of those who were first called may yet be last,
our Lord confirms by the following parable: of which the primary
scope is, to show, That many of the Jews would be rejected,
and many of the Gentiles accepted; the secondary, That of the
Gentiles, many who were first converted would be last and
lowest in the kingdom of glory; and many of those who were last
converted would be first, and highest therein. The kingdom of
heaven is like - That is, the manner of God's proceeding in his
kingdom resembles that of a householder. In the morning - At six,
called by the Romans and Jews, the first hour. From thence
reckoning on to the evening, they called nine, the third hour;
twelve, the sixth; three in the afternoon, the ninth; and five,
the eleventh. To hire labourers into his vineyard - All who
profess to be Christians are in this sense labourers, and are
supposed during their life to be working in God's vineyard.
2: The Roman penny was about seven pence halfpenny. [About
thirteen and three quarter cents, American.] This was then
the usual price of a day's labour.
6: About the eleventh hour - That is, very late; long after the
rest were called.
8: In the evening - Of life; or of the world.
9: Who were hired about the eleventh hour - Either the Gentiles,
who were called long after the Jews into the vineyard of the
Church of Christ; or those in every age who did not hear, or at
least understand the Gospel call, till their day of life was
drawing to a period. Some circumstances of the parable seem
best to suit the former, some the latter of these senses.
10: The first supposed they should have received more - Probably
the first here may mean the Jews, who supposed they should
always be preferred before the Gentiles.
12: Thou hast made them equal to us - So St. Peter expressly,(Ac 15:9).
God - hath put no difference between us (Jews) and them,
(Gentiles,) purifying their hearts by faith. And those who were
equally holy here, whenever they were called, will be equally
14: It is my will to give to this last called among the heathens
even as to the first called among the Jews: yea, and to the late
converted publicans and sinners, even as to those who, were
called long before.
15: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? - Yea,
doubtless, to give either to Jew or Gentile a reward infinitely
greater than he deserves. But can it be inferred from hence,
that it is lawful, or possible, for the merciful Father of
"Consign an unborn soul to hell?
Or damn him from his mother's womb?"
Is thine eye evil because I am good - Art thou envious, because
I am gracious? Here is an evident reference to that malignant
aspect, which is generally the attendant of a selfish and
16: So the last shall be first, and the first last - Not only with
regard to the Jews and Gentiles, but in a thousand other instances.
For many are called - All who hear the Gospel; but few chosen - Only
those who obey it. (Mt 19:30,22:14).
17: (Mk 10:32,Lu 18:31).
20: Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children
- Considering what he had been just speaking, was ever
any thing more unreasonable? Perhaps Zebedee himself
was dead, or was not a follower of Christ.(Mk 10:35).
21: In thy kingdom - Still they expected a temporal kingdom.
22: Ye know not what is implied in being advanced in my kingdom,
and necessarily prerequired thereto. All who share in my kingdom
must first share in my sufferings. Are you able and willing to
do this? Both these expressions, The cup, the baptism, are to be
understood of his sufferings and death. The like expressions are
common among the Jews.
23: But to sit on my right hand - Christ applies to the glories of
heaven, what his disciples were so stupid as to understand of the
glories of earth. But he does not deny that this is his to give.
It is his to give in the strictest propriety, both as God, and
as the Son of man. He only asserts, that he gives it to none
but those for whom it is originally prepared; namely, those who
endure to the end in the faith that worketh by love.
25: Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them
- And hence you imagine, the chief in my kingdom will do as they:
but it will be quite otherwise.
26: Your minister - That is, your servant.(Mt 23:11).
29: (Mk 10:46,Lu 18:35).
30: Behold two blind men cried out - St. Mark and St. Luke mention
only one of them, blind Bartimeus. He was far the more eminent
of the two, and, as it seems, spoke for both.
31: The multitude charged them to hold their peace - And so they
will all who begin to cry after the Son of David. But let those
who feel their need of him cry the more; otherwise they will
come short of a cure.